Five stories that have North Texas talking: How undocumented workers affect the U.S. economy, Ted Nugent's special invite to the State of the Union address, free online classes at the University of Texas and more.
As Congress debates immigration reform, Planet Money's Adam Davidson says there's one facet of the discussion that's pretty much resolved. "Nearly all economists, of all political persuasions, agree that immigrants — those here legally or not — benefit the overall economy," Davidson writes in a piece for the New York Times.
Davidson looks at the challenges immigrants who make it across Texas' border off the grid continue to face -- and he addresses concerns about the challenges they pose to the U.S. Undocumented workers fight for the same labor-driven jobs as Americans with comparable skill sets. Economists do say such competition ultimately lowers wages for adults without college degrees. But that isn't the story for other disciplines.
Take legal workers, for example. Undocumented workers in complimentary jobs -- the kind that take care of routine tasks and building maintenance -- increased legal workers' pay by as much as 10 percent, according to Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California.
Peri also said states with more undocumented workers saw more growth in general, with skilled workers making more money and scoring more hours. And most often, immigrants spend the lion's share of the money they make, feeding the economy.
- If you catch a glimpse of Ted Nugent during a broadcast of tonight's State of the Union address, know that yes, he was invited. Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas -- a Republican -- asked the rocker to be his plus one for the occasion. Stockman has said he'd move to impeach President Obama over gun control. Nugent has been less subtle. At a National Rifle Association rally last year, the rocker encouraged Republicans to "ride into that battlefield and chop [Democrats'] heads off in November." Listen to Obama's speech on KERA FM 90.1 or stream online at 8 p.m. [Huffington Post] (Oh, and Rep. Marc Veasey, who represents parts of Fort Worth and Dallas, invited some special guests as well: Members of the We Dream United advocacy group. They support undocumented immigrants and the Dream Act.)
- It'll be cooler today after the rain, and cooler still as the week progresses. Lows will approach freezing on Friday and Saturday nights. (This just in -- it's February.) [Dallas Morning News]
- The University of Texas will offer free online classes starting this Fall. Thanks to a partnership with non-profit EdX, courses like "Ideas of the 20th Century" and "Energy Technology & Policy" will be offered toward a certificate of mastery -- but not college credit. (The mouth-watering "Jazz Appreciation" is available in the Spring.) [KUT in Austin]
- Nigella Lawson was on Morning Edition because Thursday's Valentines Day and she romanticizes comfort food. But despite your plans (or lack thereof, Texas guys), the date worth making is with Gruyère, mascarpone and truffle butter on "pixie penne." Consult Lawson's recipes for Mini Macaroni & Cheese All'Italiana, Tagliata and One-Step No-Churn Coffee Ice Cream. [NPR]